The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 1: Mission #1: 20 April 2654, Enyo system

Mission #1: 20 April 2654, Enyo system

Tiger's Claw has just done a hyperspace jump into the Enyo system and it's time to fly our first mission. But before we do that, let's have a chat with the people in the rec room.

There are three people we can talk to--sometimes there can be less, especially if any of the other pilots manage to get themselves killed when flying on our wing; obviously then they can't appear here any more. Anyway, let's talk to the bartender.

You must be Maverick. I'm Shotglass. Welcome aboard the Claw. Used to be a pilot myself... till the fleabags shot me up so bad I couldn't fly. I guess I flew with most every pilot on the Claw. So if you want to know how one pilot or another flies... old Shotglass is the guy to ask. Stop by when you're off duty and we'll talk more.

Well, we can't actually ask him specific things, but over the next few missions as we meet the pilots he will be providing a general idea what their flying style is like. Different wingmen and women have different personalities and different flying styles. Some are better at one thing, some are better at another. One pilot in particular is not in fact good for much of anything at all. Shotglass will also be giving us general progress updates, how the war is going, that sort of thing.

It's finally time to meet the first couple of our shipmates. Let's first talk to the redhead on the right.

I am just reviewing some figures on our recent encounters with the Kilrathi. You would like to know what I have learned, perhaps? The Dralthi is the Kilrathi fighter seen most in this sector. These figures show that 1.4 missiles are required to destroy the Dralthi, while over seven direct laser hits are necessary to destroy the same vessel. I hope this information is useful to you, Lieutenant.

Yeah, she sounds like she'd be a hell of a lot of fun at a party! But at least she gave us some potentially useful info. If it's not obvious, you need to imagine these lines spoken with a French accent (although, as we'll see in a moment, she's not actually supposed to be French). Also these conversations will sometimes be actual conversations rather than us being told one sentence like now. Let's see what the guy with the yellow mustache has to say to all this.

I recall once when I was just a lieutenant like yourself there... We were flyin' patrol o'er Accord, the fourth planet in the Alliance System. These four Kilrathi Salthi came zoomin' in with the sun at their backs...

In the FMV Wing Commander games, this guy is played by John Rhys-Davies, so you can simply imagine his lines spoken with a Gimli-like accent.

Like I said, loads of fun.

I was leadin' up ta it, lass. That day, we learned that a Salthi will always turn ta the left... It's got somethin' ta do with the way 'er engines an' ducts are arranged. So when you tail a Salthi, watch ta the left... That's where 'e'll go when 'e makes 'is break.

Character Info

Who exactly did we just talk to? Here goes, mostly courtesy of game manual:

Captain Jeannette Devereaux ("Angel")

"I cannot stand 'rebels', or hot-doggers, or any of these so-called intuitive know it alls", explains Captain Jeannette Devereaux, who goes by the cockpit moniker of Angel. "We have used flying craft in warfare since 1914. As a race, we have nearly eight centuries of combat flying experience, and we've had nearly eight centuries to define, refine, and perfect the rules by which we fly. These are rules designed to keep us alive, keep our wingmen alive, and win our wars, n'est-ce pas?

"But every class that comes out of the Academy is stuffed full of these talented fliers who think that, because they can do new and interesting things with their machines, they must be smarter than eight centuries of military thinkers... and so the rules don't apply to them. They shut up fast when they start seeing their classmates eat missiles... and it is at that point they join the human race and begin to contribute to winning this war."

The 28-year-old Devereaux is a native of Brussels, Belgium. She is widely known for her marksmanship: Her accomplishments with ship's weapons dot the Tiger's Claw performance records.

Major James Taggart ("Paladin")

"The laddies coming out of the Academy think I was born old," says Major James Taggart, who is known as Paladin to the spacecrews. "But when I took my commission - not too long after we discovered the Empire of Kilrah - I was just a kid. I was charged up on stories of knight-errantry, on The Death of Arthur and The Song of Roland. So when we ran into the Kilrathi, I knew I was going to grab up a lance, hop into a cockpit, and change the course of history. Naturally," he jokes, "I did."

Taggart, 45, is a native of Ares, the self-sufficient space station built in permanent orbit around the planet Venus; his parents were terraforming engineers from Wick, Scotland. Though an effective wingleader, Taggart is especialy appreciated for whis wingman skills. He has a reputation for protectiveness when flying wing. On an average of three times a year, pranksters get to his space-craft, scrape the name "Paladin" from his cockpit and replace it with "Mother Hen".

"Appreciate it while you can," he grins. "Combat flying is a young man's game, and I'm having trouble convincing the medics that I'm still 25. I'll be flying a desk before too long... if I can find one with afterburners and smart missiles."

Mission Time!

Enough chit-chat, let's head to the briefing room.

We've got a lot of work people, so let's get to it!

This is Colonel Halcyon. He's the CAG on Tiger's Claw. He'll be giving us assignments and also handling post-mission debriefings, promotions and medals. That's pretty much it.

Blue Devil squadron had first patrol. You Killer Bees have the next shift. You rookies'll be flying with experienced pilots on your first missions. I want the rookies to fly as wingleaders. You vets keep an eye on the kids out there. Here are the assignments. Maverick, you're leading Alpha wing.

This is 2nd Lt. Tanaka Mariko (callsign "Spirit"); we'll introduce her properly next time when we get a chance to talk to her in the bar. First couple of missions we'll be flying with her.

You're the wingleader, but if Spirit talks, you be sure and listen. Got it?

Yes, sir!

Good. Here's your patrol plan, then. Computer, display Alpha.

There are asteroids near Nav Points 2 and 3, so stay on course. Any questions?

Yes, commander. What are we to do if we encounter the enemy?

Engage, if the odds look good. Let Maverick make the call. Next is Beta wing...

...and back to the Tiger's Claw. Remember... this is no trainsim. If you see the enemy, he'll be out to kill you. Be sure you do it to him before he does it to you.

This is the ship that we will be flying on the mission:


Class: Light Fighter
Length: 20 Meters
Mass: 12.5 tonnes
Max Velocity: 420 kps
Cruise Velocity: 300 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 8 dps
Maximum Pitch: 9 dps
Maximum Roll: 8 dps
Weapons: Laser Cannon (2x), Dumb-Fire Missiles (2x), Heat-Seeking Missile (1x)
Shields: Fore: 3 cm equivalent; Aft: 3 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 3 cm; Right: 3 cm; Left: 3 cm; Rear: 3 cm.

Actually nothing super special. It has reasonably good maneuverability, but is outmatched in pretty much all aspects by at least some of the enemies we'll encounter. Twin laser cannons have a good range, but don't do as much damage as the other kinds of guns--normally the way it works with guns in WC is the more power they have the shorter the range. HS missile is good to have and DF missiles can be useful at closer range as they simply fly directly where they are launched with no lock-on capability. In this game both the ship you fly and its weapon loadout are fixed in each mission and you don't have a choice in it. This is especially a problem in some of the missions deeper into the losing branches as you are deliberately put into a weak fighter against much more powerful enemy forces. But we won't be visiting those anyway.
That didn't go too badly. In an interesting coincidence (not) we encountered exactly the two kinds of enemy fighters that were mentioned in the pre-mission conversations.


Class: Medium Fighter
Length: 28 Meters
Mass: 14 tonnes
Max Velocity: 400 kps
Cruise Velocity: 230 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 10 dps
Maximum Pitch: 14 dps
Maximum Roll: 10 dps
Weapons: Laser Cannon (2x), Porcupine Mines (3x), Heat-Seeking Missiles (2x)
Shields: Fore: 5 cm equivalent; Aft: 5 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 4.5 cm; Right: 3 cm; Left: 3 cm; Rear: 3.5 cm.

As you can see, very slightly better than what we were flying. They make, however, for a relatively big target due to the silly 'wings' design which is good for us. This is the ship that Angel was referring to, based on the mission her data seems to be reasonably correct. What she didn't mention though is that those 7 laser hits are supposed to be from the same side of the ship as you're breaking through its armour.


Class: Light Fighter
Length: 24 Meters
Mass: 12 tonnes
Max Velocity: 480 kps
Cruise Velocity: 300 kps
Acceleration: Excellent
Maximum Yaw: 14 dps
Maximum Pitch: 12 dps
Maximum Roll: 12 dps
Weapons: Laser Cannon (2x), Dumb-Fire Missile (1x)
Shields: Fore: 3.5 cm equivalent; Aft: 3.5 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 3 cm; Right: 1.5 cm; Left: 1.5 cm; Rear: 2 cm.

These guys are really no match for us except for the fact that they are so small and fast and thus not easy to hit. This is what Paladin was talking about.

That's all for this mission, there was no opportunity to earn any medals this time, but the killboard is already starting to look better:

Next time on Wing Commander
Even more asteroids! And it's a bloody escort mission already!